Upgraded and Enhanced: How does Crash Bandicoot 4 stack up across Xbox Series, Xbox One, and Switch?
We're putting all three console versions to the test in one supersized comparison.
Just like the N. Sane Trilogy before it, Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time landed on several new platforms late last week, which enabled a whole new audience of gamers to check out its platforming magic. Along with the Nintendo Switch, this fourth entry into the series also received optimisations, pushing its already stunning visuals to new heights on the PS5 and Xbox Series consoles. With several new ways to play the game now available, I decided to take a look at it on the Nintendo Switch, Xbox One and Xbox Series X to see where the biggest differences occurred.
Just as I have done previously with my other Xbox Series comparisons, I will be purely looking at Crash 4 here from a technical standpoint across all three platforms and will not be delving into the gameplay aspects. For our thoughts on how well the game stands up, you can check out our original review of the game here.
Let's kick things off by talking about the performance on the most powerful machine of the three: the Xbox Series X. On the Series X, the game runs at 4K/60fps, and comparatively, the original Xbox One version runs at 900p with a targeted frame rate of 60fps. The visuals here really do feel like a significant jump in quality as everything just looks so colourful and crisp, and at times, it feels like you really are playing an interactable animated film (as cliché as that sounds). Even with these enhancements to the visuals, it also still manages to retain a consistent 60fps, which is a marked improvement on the Xbox One version. The Xbox One, for comparison targets 60fps but its frame rate usually is within the region of 30-40fps.
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The Switch port, of course, is in a very different position as a few necessary changes have been made to make it playable on less powerful hardware. On the hybrid system, it's 1080p/30fps whilst in docked mode and handheld mode its 720p/30fps. When it came to playing in handheld, I did have a few criticisms, but I was still massively impressed to see Crash 4 running so fluidly in the palm of my hands. What I noticed right off the bat is that the visuals appear blurry, and the colours feel washed out when compared to the Xbox versions, which look much more vivid and colourful.
Things fare much better in docked mode, but the sacrifices are still clearly visible. Shadows are noticeably toned back and so are effects such as reflections in the puddles on the ground. Looking at the Switch and even the original Xbox One version alongside each other, there is quite a visible difference when it comes to the level of detail and polish applied. If you're looking for the best looking version of the game out there then you're best avoid the Switch version, but it still gets a thumbs up from me due to its versatility and rock solid performance.
When it comes to loading times it's obvious that the Xbox Series X has the edge due to its internal SSD, but just how much of a margin does it lead by? On the Nintendo Switch, it took 47 seconds from launching the app to reach the menu, on the Xbox One it took 55 seconds, and on the Xbox Series X it took 45 seconds. To load into a level it took 18 seconds on the Nintendo Switch, 25 seconds on the Xbox One, and on the Xbox Series X it took just 9 seconds. So yeah, the Nintendo Switch managed to perform pretty admirably in this regard, outpacing the Xbox One by a small margin. This could perhaps be due to the more scaled back port that is running on the Switch, or my dusty old Xbox One could be nearing its end.
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Something that should be noted is that there are a handful of new features that have rolled out alongside the next-gen versions of the game. Crash 4 now supports 3D audio on PS5 and Xbox Series and the PS5 version utilises the DualSense controller in a few interesting ways. The controller is said to use haptic feedback to heighten the impact of weapons such as Cortex's Blaster and Tawna's Hookshot. Sadly, I haven't been able to try these features out, but they do sound like they would be welcomed additions. The Switch, on the other hand, doesn't implement any of its exclusive features like gyro controls within this specific version.
Overall, I was really impressed with both these new versions of Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time, and it was pleasing to see the game being handled with a great deal of care across a variety of different systems. The Switch version, despite making a few noticeable sacrifices, still runs buttery smooth, and it's pretty mind blowing to see it running on a portable device. The Xbox Series X version, on the other hand, makes for a noticeable step up in quality with its visuals being even more crisp and vividly colourful. Let's hope the PC version is equally as impressive when it lands, shortly.